Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 15 results
Media
Illustration of American elm leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ulmus americana
Description
Until Dutch elm disease came to America, the large, graceful American elm was widely planted along city streets and was beloved as the all-American shade tree. Now large specimens are rare, since the deadly fungus usually kills trees before they reach fine old ages.
Media
Illustration of American hornbeam leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carpinus caroliniana
Description
American hornbeam is also called musclewood because of the sinewy appearance of its smooth gray bark. The name hornbeam refers to the genuine strength of its wood — it is one of the hardest and strongest woods in North America.
Media
white ash leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fraxinus spp.
Description
Missouri has six species of ashes that you might find in natural settings. They have been very popular as shade trees, and their wood is famously useful. Ash trees of all the species in North America are currently being killed by the invasive, nonnative emerald ash borer.
Media
Illustration of box elder leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer negundo
Description
A member of the maple family, box elder is often confused with poison ivy because its compound leaves sometimes grow in threes (though also in fives). A fast-growing tree, its winged seeds betray its relationship to other maples.
Media
Illustration of corkwood leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Leitneria floridana
Description
Corkwood is a rare and unusual small tree that doesn’t have a problem with having its feet wet for long periods of time, but it grows rarer as its swampy habitat is converted to cropland.
Media
Photo of slippery elm leaves and twigs.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ulmus spp.
Description
Missouri has seven species of elms that grow in natural settings. Elms have tough, shock-resistant wood. Historically some species were favorite shade trees, which is why so many towns have Elm Streets. But elms have suffered for a century from a devastating fungal disease.
Media
Illustration of green ash leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Description
Green ash is one of the most widely planted shade trees around homes and along streets. In the wild, it lives along streams and in low grounds. Sadly, it is one of the trees most vulnerable to the emerald ash borer, an exotic invasive pest.
Media
Illustration of ladies' eardrops leaves, flowers, fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Brunnichia ovata (formerly B. cirrhosa)
Description
Ladies’ eardrops is a perennial, tendril-climbing woody vine to 40 feet, with green to reddish-brown stems, and curious pink, pendant fruits. In Missouri, it is found in the Bootheel.
Media
sugar maple
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer spp.
Description
Missouri has five species of maples that are either native or naturalized, plus several that are known only in cultivation. Maples are important members of native ecosystems. They also provide stunning fall color, welcome shade in summer, commercially important lumber, and sap for syrup.
Media
Illustration of red maple leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer rubrum
Description
Red maple is one of our most useful — and beautiful — native trees. You can find it in the woods as well as in landscape plantings statewide. Many horticultural varieties are available at nurseries.
See Also

About Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines in Missouri

There are no sharp dividing lines between trees, shrubs, and woody vines, or even between woody and nonwoody plants. “Wood” is a type of tissue made of cellulose and lignin that many plants develop as they mature — whether they are “woody” or not. Trees are woody plants over 13 feet tall with a single trunk. Shrubs are less than 13 feet tall, with multiple stems. Vines require support or else sprawl over the ground.